Chamber News

June 02, 2020 Likes Comments

More reopening updates

Reopening our economy took another big step forward yesterday, when Gov. Charlie Baker cleared the way for childcare, day camps, retail stores, hotels and some other businesses and nonprofits to open as soon as next Monday.

 
Baker issued a revised list (starting on page 6) of businesses and nonprofits who could be eligible to reopen, under strict guidelines as soon as next Monday and updated some future phase listings too.
 
Day camps and child care facilities can open in Massachusetts during Phase 2 under these new guidelines and after submitting reopening plans.
 
(However just because they can open, doesn't mean they will. Last night Newton announced that none of the city-run programs will operate this summer. Crystal Lake and Gath Pool will also be closed.)
 
But mandates for smaller groups, lower child-to-staff ratios, daily temperature checks and more increased cleanings will put financial pressure on providers and may make finding an available slot hard for parents, policy experts say.
 
On Thursday at 11 a.m. the chamber will host a panel via Zoom of child care providers and policy-makers with early childhood, elementary afterschool and year-round programs to understand how reopening will work and explore the ongoing challenges this industry faces.
 
Meanwhile, the new reality for retailers and shoppers includes limited capacity (eight people per 1000 sq. feet of accessible indoor space, or 40% of the max permitted occupancy, whichever is greater). Malls must also limit capacity to 40 percent. Food courts, play areas and seating areas may not open. Fitting rooms must remain closed too.
 
Grocery stores and pharmacies will also need to follow the newer rules and continue to provide dedicated hours for at risk populations. All retailers and malls must follow these guidelines.
 
 
Landlords nervous about missing income
 
June rent was due yesterday. And some landlords are speaking out against the state’s eviction moratorium laws.
 
Twenty-two percent of residential landlords surveyed in late April by MassLandlords said they didn't think they would be able to pay all of their bills (including taxes, insurance, repairs and mortgage payments) through the end of the year, WGBH reports.
 
Forty-two percent of respondents said they expected they would have to file one or more evictions as soon as the state’s eviction moratorium ends on Aug. 18. That could result in as many as 15,000 eviction notices going out in one week, said Douglas Quattrochi, MassLandlords’s executive director. In a typical year, there are about 30,000 evictions.
 
Douglas said he estimates 20 percent of rent payments have gone uncollected from landlords since the coronavirus shutdown, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in unpaid rent.
 
Massachusetts’ eviction moratorium does not provide funding to pay rent, it simply sidelines the courts, preventing almost all mediation, filing and hearings. Two Massachusetts landlords have filed a suit claiming the moratorium is unconstitutional, arguing that the legislation unconstitutionally interferes with the domain of the Trial Court.
 
“The way the law was written was very one-sided and unfair to landlords, mostly smaller landlords that don’t have the ability to just sit and wait for this to be undone and for courts to open,” one of the their attorneys told Commonwealth Magazine.
 
Riverside D Line to shut down for 18 days
 
The MBTA will shut down train service on the Green Line's D Branch for a total of 18 days in June, the latest step to accelerate maintenance work while ridership is low. The closures will happen from June 6 through June 14 and from June 20 through June 28, with shuttle buses deployed during those days.
 
The upgrades are designed to make service through Newton more reliable, faster, safer, and, when there are failures, response times faster. Over 21,462 feet of running rail will be replaced as well as turnouts, switches and signal equipment. Free shuttles will run from Riverside to Kenmore. Information is here.
 
Locations, locations, locations
 
Massachusetts has dramatically increased testing capacity and remains a national leader in per-capita testing, with a network of 260-plus testing sites. A new interactive map provides an easy way to locate a COVID-19 test site, for those experiencing symptoms or those who have been in close contact recently with a COVID-positive individual.
 
Free 3D printing
 
Even though the Watertown Free Public Library’s Hatch Makerspace is closed to the public, you can still access Hatch’s 3D printers and laser cutter for free. Starting the week of May 25, Hatch staff will be available to 3D print and laser cut original work submitted online. All you need to do is submit your design files and arrange for curbside pickup.
 
Finally….give me 'P'!
 
If you were to take a look at my laptop keyboard, you’d see that the letter just to the right of the “O” is starting to fade. Why? I blame all those “PPP” and “PPE” updates.
  • As for the PPP: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said yesterday that the Senate will vote “soon” on a House bill passed last week that would add flexibility to the program. Fingers crossed.
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
617-244-1688
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